I flew out to Indianapolis again for my 3rd year in a row, to hang with Castor and enjoy the nerd festivities of GENCON.

The trip started on a difficult foot. I had trouble sleeping the night before my flight. I didn’t trust my alarm clock, and I had no backup, so I ended up with only about 4 hours sleep before departing for the airport. I spent that awake time packing and making sure I had everything I would need. I set off early, because I wanted to stop by my dad’s house and take in the empty trash cans. I got a Coffee Bean coffee, then headed over and took care of the trash cans. Then I got a 2-for-$4 deal on bacon burritos at Carl’s Jr. and rolled through traffic to the airport, where I was 2.5 hours early.

The flight itself was packed. Even though I checked in exactly 24 hours in advance, I was boarding at B42, which means near the end of the next-to-last boarding group. I found a window seat at the back and crawled over an old man to get to it. Behind me was a woman and her 9-year-old son, who she desperately wanted to sit next to on the flight, but there were no more open neighboring seats left by the time she got on. The flight attendants started asking if someone would give up their seat, but nobody did. They offered a free drink and still nobody did. I decided I would help, just as the flight attendant was offering 4 free drinks, and the old man next to me was lecturing the mother on the virtues of priority boarding. Fortunately for me, the elderly Jewish couple across the aisle let me sit in their window seat, and they compressed toward the aisle. When it came time to ask for drinks, though, I only wanted water. The flight attendant was disappointed because she wanted to reward me for helping out, but water’s free anyway.

Arrival was also smooth. I disembarked from the plane, walked over to baggage claim, saw my suitcase coming toward me on the carousel, picked it up, and walked outside. My phone needed to be rebooted after airplane mode, and I needed to walk a bit to get signal, but I was able to text Castor that I was ready for pickup. One minute later, I see his red Hyundai rolling in. I was loaded up and driving away from the airport within 5 minutes of leaving the plane. Fortuitous timing!

Castor’s house was no longer in a state of construction. They had their new bathroom exhaust fan installed and working, and the mirror reinstalled. They had even equipped the guest room with a desk for my computer. Nice!

Our first day at GENCON was Thursday, which we started at 9am on the field of Lucas Oil Stadium, where we played a DC Heroes deck building game with an expansion set. I didn’t know what was in the expansion set so I had no way of developing a winning strategy. My record dropped to 1-1.

After that we had Island Noodles with Chicken, consuming them while sitting on the carpeted hallway floor of the Indianapolis Convention Center. We were scheduled for a couple of writing seminars, but they were too far away and we were hungry. After that, we headed off to the Mariott Hotel for a Pathfinder game where we played Christmas monsters and tried to save Santa. That was pretty fun. Afterward, we went to Mikado for dinner and had a nice meal. Then we went back to Lucas Oil Stadium, where we played a Pathfinder tournament where we were tasked with playing villains and sent on several personal missions. That was a painful challenge. After that, we went home and slept.

Bright and early the next morning, Castor and I set off for the convention again. We had 3 hours of writing seminars with Drake. I realized I need to study the Hero’s Journey a lot more. Castor became excited about writing the Metaverse story again, and I had an idea to introduce an old and wise character to help my main character out when he gets too deep into trouble. We wandered the sales floor a bit after that and made a couple purchases before heading to World Market for lunch and then home for a nap. We got up from that to go to Matt’s house for Castor’s regular Pathfinder game, in which he plays a Paladin/Rogue. I played Mike Chambers’ Crane-style Monk. We did alright, but we didn’t leave there until 12:27am and got home around 1am.

We got up Saturday morning at 6am because Castor had all the tickets to the Pathfinder Society game we were playing at 8am. Mike, Alan, Isaiah, Castor, and I (and one other guy) did an intro to PFS adventure. I didn’t get a PFS number until afterward. Next time, though, I’ll be ready! Castor and I had lunch at Harry & Izzy’s, which is across the street from Mikado. It’s a fancy steakhouse with a famous shrimp cocktail with spicy horseradish sauce that burned your sinuses out. I had a hard time deciding between the chicken Caesar salad and the BBQ chicken, finally settling on the latter. After that, we bought some more stuff, watched a little bit of the cosplay parade, and went home. We went to Texas Steak House with Carla for dinner, and I got the Caesar salad I’d been eyeing for lunch.

Sunday was an easy day. We started slow, hit the convention center around noon, spent about 3 hours buying too much stuff, and then headed back home. Castor let me copy some of his media files. I played a little guitar. We talked until late.

Monday morning I was up early. Packed, showered, dressed, and ready by 6:30am. Castor cooked me breakfast and then dropped me off at the airport. Check in was a breeze, and I spent the flight sitting next to a cute little Chapman College student and her mom.

Getting back to my car was another story. It took 45 minutes for the shuttle to pick me up. I didn’t get my car out until after 1pm and it cost nearly $100. It’s almost cheaper to get a shuttle from my front porch. Then I had to drive home, and that took another couple hours due to a couple of major crashes on the 405 and 101. Got home, unloaded the car, and slept for 2 hours!

Comments Off on GENCON 51

805BJJ Class 134: Koshi Guruma, Kesa Gatame, arm bar, americana, top-bottom-out drill, left early

Mark and Christian taught this Saturday morning class. I’d been out for about a month because of my stupid toes, but I’d had much reduced pain for 2 days and saw an opportunity to come back and train.

I was scared of the warm up, but for some reason I don’t feel as much pain when I’m on the mat. The side shuffle on my left foot was pretty painful but I angled my toes away so that instead of tugging my big toe sideways, it pulled it away from the foot. That was much less painful.

We started with Christian teaching the Koshi Guruma technique, which is where you wrap up a headlock as you’re turning to do a hip toss. Starting from a shoulder and sleeve grip, you pull up the sleeve as they’re pushing into you, and you slip your shoulder gripping hand over their shoulder and around their neck as you step in and get your hips under theirs. Load them up on your hip and squat lift them, then dump them off the side. As you go down, maintain the headlock and assume kesa gatame position.

From kesa gatame, you reach your free hand back and peel their trapped arm off your waist with a C-grip, keeping their thumb pointing up. You then force it out straight and trip it with your lower knee. Scissor your legs to get the tap.

If they bend and turn their arm upwards, you can tuck it under your top leg and just push your calf down to the mat for the tap, raising your hips if you need a little extra travel to finish it.

We did top-bottom-out then. Me, Jose, and the deaf fellow. Jose started on top of me, and I was able to roll him over me and get on top.

I then went out, then got on top of deaf fellow, who I just pressured for the full round because he had his arm bent over across his face. I didn’t feel confident in switching to regular side control or flipping it about to go for an arm triangle or a kimura, so I just sat there. Great.

Jose started on top of me again, and this time I snuck out behind him and took him down, eventually sliding my ears out of his headlock with a little bit of pain. Jose needs to work on his basic kesa gatame position.

Then I started on top of deaf guy again, but this time I mounted him and collar choked him hard until he tapped. The high point of my day. Mark then switched Jose to another group and brought Sean in, so I got to have Sean on top of me. Great. He’s smooth, but he just about took my head off in transition before he lost his grips. I remember that sucked a lot, but I did prevent him from getting his mounted triangle on me again, which frustrated him.

I bowed out early before the stand-up round.

Comments Off on 805BJJ Class 134: Koshi Guruma, Kesa Gatame, arm bar, americana, top-bottom-out drill, left early

805BJJ Class 128: Saranya’s birthday, repeat of side control submissions

Greggo taught this Saturday morning class. We warmed up with a flow roll. Professor Pat paired up with me and did some ankle locks and leg locks. He said that you can defend an ankle lock by planting your weight on that foot and sticking it to the mat. Anyway, Greggo then went into the sequence of submissions he did last Tuesday morning, and I was able to try them out on Pat, who is much shorter than I am, and with a much more muscular neck and arms. Quite a change from doing them to whoever I did them to on Tuesday. Anyway, I learned some refinements and I also lost confidence in my ability to ever do those moves.

Then we did a side control drill. I won two battles and lost about 8.

Then we free rolled. I got tapped out 3 or 4 times, didn’t get injured, and kind of did okay.

Comments Off on 805BJJ Class 128: Saranya’s birthday, repeat of side control submissions

805BJJ Class 126: submissions from top side control – step over arm bar, americana, straight arm bar, americana trap, arm triangle; side control sweep

I came in 15 minutes early to find workers in reflective outfits climbing ladders to work in the overhead of the building space. They were removing the sprinkler drops. The next thing I saw was that Tom and Greg were the only other two guys there for class. To remind you, these are the two who destroyed me for 1.5 hours on Saturday. Great.

We started early and got straight into the step over arm bar from side control. No warm up, no instruction, just go. I let Phil go first because I’d never done these before. So the key here is you get the guy’s arm isolated over your shoulder. You cup the elbow and pull it up, planting your own elbow on his midsection and turning him on his side (he’ll want to relieve the pressure) so you keep the pressure on him by extending both your feet (you don’t need your knee to control his hip on the near side if you’ve got his arm trapped and your weight’s on his midsection). Step your foot way above his head, turn toward a sort of north-south position with the arm trapped, then step that foot under his butt, at the same time grabbing his pants at the knee, at the same time hooking your other foot over his neck, at the same time as you lean your under-butt foot over to squeeze his trapped arm. Lots of stuff has to come together there at the end.

The Americana was next. This time he’s got a cross face, but you again cup that elbow and put your own elbow on his midsection to pressure him. Extend your feet away and roll side to side on his chest. As you lean toward his waist, lift your head a little and bring your other hand across wrist-to-wrist, pushing his forearm across while you’re cupping his elbow. This gives you the Americana grip. You don’t even have to hold onto his wrist if you’ve got that wrist blade on him. Roll your chest toward his head as you push his arm flat to the mat, then finish normal if he hasn’t tapped already.

The straight arm bar is something you get when they’re wrapping their arm around you. Again, you grip the elbow, but this time you roll your hips to face toward their head, and it’s like you’re sliding for kesa gatame, but instead you step your foot over their head and pull it away from their isolated arm. Monkey grip your hands behind their elbow and crunch their joint backward for the tap. If that’s not quite there, you can set the Americana trap. Put your arms in a figure 4 with your cross arm palm open near your face, ready to catch their wrist as they try to save their arm from the straight arm bar by moving it around your head to frame again. It just slips right into the Americana, which you finish as before from side control (i.e., step back from the head overstep back to side control.)

Next we learned how to set up the arm triangle. With them framing, you have an underhook, which you can use to separate their arm and creep it up toward their head. With this pressure and distraction, you can press your knee across to mount. Keep heavy pressure on the mount – knees wide and hips low. Use your cross face grip to grab their upper arm, so that you can use your underhooking arm to tuck it into the sweet spot next to your head. From this position, you can finish by squeezing your arm and pushing their arm with your head, maintaining forward and downward pressure from mount. If you can’t finish from here, you can dismount to the side of their trapped arm and do the same thing but getting your body low as you squeeze. Works pretty good.

We did some very short rolls, armed with these techniques, starting from side control. I went with Andrew a bunch of times. I started on top, and tried to get a paper cutter choke, but he survived and got to guard, where I transitioned to a triangle, then to a kimura, but he escaped. It felt good to know things to try as the position evolved. More of that, please!

I rolled with Christian, and he taught me to address the cross collar grab immediately. Don’t leave it hanging there because it’s just waiting to choke you. I told him Saranya’s wrist is better but now she is suffering from a lice infestation.

Next roll was with Greggo. I set up an arm bar, he escaped, and tapped me out. He liked my pressure.

I had a slow roll with Chris, because his back was hurting. Mostly just reviewing techniques.

Last few minutes I rolled again with Andrew. He almost got me in a triangle, and I barely got out because he was tired. He said if I’d stacked him more, he would have had to let go earlier.

Comments Off on 805BJJ Class 126: submissions from top side control – step over arm bar, americana, straight arm bar, americana trap, arm triangle; side control sweep

805BJJ Class 119: Saranya’s sprained wrist, spider guard sweep, pass, lasso guard defense, spider guard drill, rolling

Saranya went to 10am kids’ BJJ class. Rolling with Payton, she bent her left wrist back and sprained it. Ouch!

Adult class started with TJ’s standard warm up. I had to step out briefly to hand Saranya off to Sangeeta and recommend urgent care. Then I paired up with Shabbar to do the spider guard drills.

Shabbar does not like it when I try to coach him. Also, he has bad breath, he cheats during drills, and he’s big and strong and skilled and he wrecks me. Still, he’s a nice enough guy. I like him. He had real trouble with the spider guard break, but he could just smash me anyway. One time he told me “Really try to sweep me, so I get a real look at what’s going on here” so I swept him. He scrambled out and my stupid spider guard grips twisted my fingers as he violently pulled away.

Anyway, the techniques.

First we learned how to establish the spider guard, and how to use it to sweep. From the closed guard, get double sleeve grips. Open your guard while pinching at the knees still. Hip out to the side to get the opposite side foot on the hip, and tuck your same side knee under the arm to get that foot on the hip as well. From this position you have a decent open guard, but for real spider guard control you need to move your foot or feet from the hip to the crook of the elbow, then rotate on your side so you can put that leg high up. Pulling their opposite sleeve while elevating the top elbow, you pull them over you while tipping them over, coming on top. As you do so, keep that grip on the top hand, as an advantage toward submission and control.

The spider guard pass we learned first was to grip the pants at the knee so you have control of him too, tip the bottom guy onto his side, and step out so that he doesn’t have that vertical advantage anymore. At range, the spider guard isn’t very dangerous or effective. So you line up their top heel (which is inside your elbow at this point) with your knee (you step out farther than your knee for base and stability) and peel the foot off your arm enough to circle under and plant that leg on the ground, breaking their grip on your sleeve. You then staple that leg to the mat and commence your passing.

We also learned a counter to the lasso guard, which was to stay heavy on it, pull your hand back, then circle it under toward their butt, outside, then up toward their knee to break the grip. Then press the knees to the ground and pass.

That done, we had a spider guard drill. Four guys down, the rest along the wall, filling in as guys became available. I started on Greggo. Spider guard, pass or sweep. Well, Greg went easy on me, and I ended up passing! Then I was down, and I swept two guys with the move of the day, before Shabbar came up and smashed me. Back in line, I was paired up next with TJ. I passed his guard and then Andrew passed mine. Next was Matt. I passed his guard and then Shabbar passed mine again. Lesson learned – I suck at guard retention, but I’m better at guard passing.

Then we rolled. My first round was with Sean, who went very easy after rehabbing a 50% tear of his patella tendon. He tried his mounted triangle on me but I scooted out the back.

Next round was with Ray, who was able to pass my guard like butter, but I was able to keep him from properly mounting me by building the elbow-knee cage and hiding in it.

After that I rolled with Greggo, who slowly and methodically passed my guard, mounted me, and arm triangled me. He showed me that by separating my arm, while maintaining mount pressure and a wide base, he was able to advance to a high mount where I was unable to escape or defend.

Next I rolled with Corey, who had just gotten 2 white belt stripes. He started in my guard, and I managed to tip him to the side and take his back like Greggo showed me on Thursday! He recovered enough so I was just mounting him, but I was eventually able to secure a collar, threaten an arm, and then finish the collar choke for the tap. That was thrilling. My only tap of the day.

Then I rolled with Andrew. He passed my guard, mounted me, and got a high mount that I again couldn’t get out of. I tried the two-on-one arm trap, but I didn’t have the leverage or angle to tip him over. I should have snuck out the back, but on well.

Last roll was with Matt. He started in my guard, so we were both in shitty positions we need to work on. He was able to pass, but I got to my knees and blasted him back. He recovered guard.

I came away with just a little mat burn on my right foot.

Comments Off on 805BJJ Class 119: Saranya’s sprained wrist, spider guard sweep, pass, lasso guard defense, spider guard drill, rolling

805BJJ Class 116: drama, De La Riva sweeps, drills, rolling

Sangeeta went running this Saturday morning, and she took with her Saranya’s mouth guard and belt. She told us she’d meet us in Simi and deliver the hardware, so we headed over and waited in the parking lot. While we were there, Leo went in (about an hour before the adult class). Odd. Anyway, it turns out Saranya’s belt wasn’t in her bag either. She headed to the back, and emerged from the bathroom later with her belt tied around her waist. Must have found her belt in the lost and found.

Before class started, Mark told Leo “I need to talk with you” and they made their way over to the Adams machines. The had a discussion, and Leo left. Then the kids wrapped up and we lined up for class. Mark told us that he had to kick Leo out of the school because he kept coming to class with alcohol on his breath. He said that the school does not tolerate training under the influence of alcohol or marijuana.

Anyway, class started. TJ warmed us up. He tried to bait Mark into a fit by using tantric yoga terminology, but Mark was intently talking with Christian and ignored TJ. It turns out that Mark was kicking Kerry out, and banning his son Skyler from the school. It seems Kerry was a problem with other parents, and Mark had to shut him down in the parking lot by threatening to kick his ass. He came back in muttering “Fuck that guy.”

Then Christian taught us some De La Riva guard sweeps that were sort of judo-flavored. The De La Riva guard is an open guard where your near leg hooks around their leg and pulls their knee forward, while your other leg pushes their far leg away at the thigh. Grips are variable, but we went with sleeve grips. For the sweeps, first you push them off balance by pushing their far thigh away, then you sit up, trap one of their arms to their near leg with a big hook, post opposite hand and foot, and scoot your leg back as you press forward with your chest.

We did a drill where we went 2.5 minutes of just repeating the takedown, then switched positions for the next 2.5 minutes. My thighs got tired from standing up so much!

Then we did a chain roll from open guard. I passed Shabbar, swept Cowboy, and then I let Aiden pass on me. From then on, I was garbage.

We ended class with 8 minute rolls. I started against Shabbar, getting demolished consistently. He got regular takedowns despite my lessons against Brandon on Thursday. He put intense pressure on my ribs. I realized I need to work a lot harder on getting out from under big guys, but I just had no energy today. Might be from the pie last night, huh? After that, I had competitive rolls with Logan and Cosmo. I had to sit out the last round.

Comments Off on 805BJJ Class 116: drama, De La Riva sweeps, drills, rolling

805BJJ Class 101: Kimura from everywhere, rolling

I came in early to watch Saranya’s class. She did really well. I was impressed.

We started our class with a half-assed warm-up as the kids finished off in the corner. Then we paired up to learn how to do a kimura from closed guard. I already knew how to do this, so I worked on refining my technique. Specifically, grip the arm HARD by doing a motorcycle rev grip, and make sure their elbow is bent and locked, and keep your arms clamping their upper arm tight, and use your legs to lock down their hips. My training partner was Professor Pat, and he gave me pointers that were opposite to what Greggo was teaching. Greggo came over and straightened us out eventually. I can do a kimura pretty well.

Next was Christian showing a kimura from bottom half guard. The idea, he said, is to distract them with your underhook (though later Greggo said you more typically get it when blocking the cross face) and get a no-thumb wrist grip on their cross face arm, while maintaining an inner leg hook. Sit up on your wrist-gripping elbow as you reach the other arm over and lock up the figure 4 grip. Bend the arm to 90 degrees and twist your hands to push bone to bone and make it uncomfortable. Squeeze your legs together as you roll under, keeping your tight grip on their upper arm, and rotate their shoulder until they tap.

We also learned how to finish it from top side control. Take the near arm, pin the wrist to the belt with your top hand, slip your bottom hand under the elbow and lock up the kimura grip. Now you want to step over them to go to a north-south orientation. Roll them up on their side with their locked arm up. Brace your knee in their back to keep them from lying flat. Hug their arm to your chest. Twist it away from their body to break a belt or gi grip, then sit up while keeping it locked to your body, then rotate the shoulder to put their hand in their own back pocket for the tap.

Rolling started slow. I rolled with Carlos, and he quickly gave up the hip bump sweep and I got mount. He got his feet up high to pull me over backward, but then he didn’t get on top. Huh. I could have submitted him all over the place just by throwing my weight on him, but I didn’t.

After that, Mark told me to go roll with “Mad Dog” Mark. We went off in the Adam corner and got to it. I started on the bottom, and somehow got on top and mounted him. He was doing push ups on me and trying to lock up a kimura from bottom mount, and I wasn’t able to sink an arm bar on him. He almost recovered half guard on me but I maintained mount and just ended up smashing him.

Next round was with Ray. I managed to do pretty well against him, and didn’t get submitted, but he was also secure from my submission attempts. He did pass to side control once, but I was able to get him to take kesa gatame, and when I threatened to take his back he retreated and broke contact.

The round after that I rolled with Joel, the little hispanic kid from Saranya’s class. He was going to roll with Aiden but Johnson was off doing other stuff so Joel jumped at the chance to roll with me. We started with me in his guard, and I let him work. He locked up a good arm bar. Tap. Then we went to Joel in my guard, and I wiggled around to test his base (he was wobbly and he somehow leg locked himself once) but eventually he passed and I turtled. He was working on something that I didn’t recognize and I was coaching him to get his hooks which he finally did and sunk in the choke just before the end of the round.

Last round was with Sean. I started in his guard and he started doing spider guard on me. I tried sliding him between my legs but he just slid right out again when I tried to sit on him. He then went to a De La Riva guard and tipped me over onto the wall. I barely got out of that when Mark called a pause in the action to hand out Carlos’ blue belt! Then we went back to rolling. Sean again did the open guard, and I started passing. He set up the bait baseball choke, but I saw it coming and prevented it, which impressed him.

Then we all hip tossed Carlos onto the crash pad and class was over.

Afterward, Saranya and I went to Chipotle!

Comments Off on 805BJJ Class 101: Kimura from everywhere, rolling

805BJJ Class 100: triangle defense

Finally hit my 100th class. Greggo taught triangle defenses.

The first defense is controlling the latch leg with your in-arm. Grip the pants of the leg across your neck, press it to the mat, then look up as you posture up. If they pull your head down, good luck!

Next defense was to grip the cross leg and turn it out to try to survive. Good luck!

Next was a pass/submission based on getting your posture and removing your arm. Once you get your arm out from between, reach your free arm forward and across to grab the collar thumb-in. Then you can stack them and press that forearm into their neck for the submission, or let them fall to the side and establish side control.

We did some situational rolling where we practiced either finishing the triangle or getting out of the triangle. I finished Phil once and Andrew twice. Jen finished me twice, but I couldn’t get a tight triangle on her at all. Shabbar finished me at will, and crushed me with stacking pressure when I tried to triangle him. Then I had to leave to pick up Saranya from her short school day.

Comments Off on 805BJJ Class 100: triangle defense


Saranya got sick after I started getting better. Sangeeta made me take her to the doctor. They did the tests and the flu test came out positive. They prescribed Tamiflu, and Saranya made me get it, but then she refused to take the medicine.

Anyway, that means I also had flu. Or I’m about to get flu…

Comments Off on Flu

Pathfinder 4

Got together at Greg’s place to finish up our first Pathfinder campaign. The guys charmed the shock troops, took out the chief, and hit 2nd level.

Comments Off on Pathfinder 4